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The Rights of Non-Custodial Parents to Visit Children

The Rights of Non-Custodial Parents to Visit Children

When judges award physical custody of a child to one parent, the other parent is typically awarded visitation rights. Under certain circumstances, however, those rights may be subject to certain limitations.

Physical & Legal Custody Basics

The lingo may change from state to state, but in most jurisdictions, child custody is divided into two types:

  • Legal custody refers to which parent has decision-making authority over a child on major life issues such as education, religion and medical treatment.
  • Physical custody refers to with which parent a child primarily resides.

In the cases of both physical and legal custody, one parent may have sole custody or both parents may have shared or joint custody. For example, a mother may have sole physical custody, but both parents may share legal custody.

When one parent has sole physical custody, the other normally has visitation (also known as parenting time).

Restrictions on Visitation

If a judge is concerned about the child's safety in the presence of a non-custodial parent, then the judge may place some restrictions on that parent's visitation rights. Under New York child custody laws, for example, a parent may have supervised visits or therapeutic supervised visits:

"Supervised Visits: A parent can't be alone with the child. The court will choose someone to supervise the visits if there are serious concerns about a parent's ability to act properly with the child or where there has been domestic violence.

"Therapeutic Supervised Visits: A mental health professional supervises the visits and can try during the visits to improve the parenting skills of the parent."

A parent's visitation might be supervised if there are allegations of abuse or neglect.

The custodial parent cannot withhold visitation because the non-custodial parent is behind on child support payments.

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